3 Creative Ways to Move Toward Emotional Health

Get Out of Your Head and Into Emotional Health: 3 Ideas

If you are like me, you get stuck in your head and need help moving toward emotional and mental health.

Do you have a secret sadness or a shapeless grief that keeps you down? Do you lean toward despondency, especially in colder seasons?

What if some unique and creative activities could alleviate melancholy for people like us?

I have found 3 creative ways to keep despondency at bay. I’m not suggesting changing anything your doctor has prescribed — just bringing a little color to the palette.

1.  TELL YOUR STORY

In my early twenties, I had an eating disorder called bulimia. Looking back, I realize I was using food to stuff down parts of my story I could not face. Fresh out of childhood, my feelings were trying to surface, but I didn’t have an escape hatch for them. The disorder distracted me from dealing with my history.

Then I met Scott, who later became my husband. I took a risk and told him about the bingeing and purging. A tiny shaft of light broke into my cellar. My worst secret was safe with him. Other hard truths emerged. From there, he helped me look honestly at my experiences and bring hidden suffering to the surface. Slowly, I let go of coping with food and moved toward mental and emotional health. My book Lifelines is a continuation of this work of a lifetime.

There are many ways to tell your story:

  • Talk to a friend, spiritual advisor, or counselor to pop the lid on bottled up emotions. Our negative emotions have a way of dissipating when they decompress and spread their weight across other shoulders.
  • Journal. Pen on paper helps disentangle the jumble of thoughts and feelings in our minds and bodies.
  • Pray. Our creator knows our weaknesses and fears. He listens well and won’t be surprised by anything we have to say.
  • Form a fictional tale from your experiences or current turmoil. You don’t have to be a writer to create a character that acts as a mirror. Can you create a short story to represent what’s stirring deep in your soul?

2.  WRITE A SONGemotional mental health

I am the kind of person who spins and spins inside my head until I make myself dizzy and sick. Songwriting has helped me work out a lot of sadness, confusion, and anger in my life. In the process, I found a lot of hope and healing.

Years ago, I wrote a song called “Tell Your Story.” As a recording artist, I had the luxury of writing and recording my kind of crazy. Call it music therapy.

Writing a song can be tricky but it’s not as hard as you think. You’ve listened to countless songs in your life and even followed the lyrics on a page as you listened to a favorite artist. What if you grabbed one of those song lyrics you love and used it as a model, a template for writing your own lyrics?

  • Try to write and sing your lyrics to the same rhythm and melody as the song you are using as a framework. You’re not trying to plagiarize and publish here.
  • Connect to the emotion of the song you love and write your own words and music.
  • Build on snippets from your journal or a poem that connects to your soul.
  • Create a tiny soundtrack with your own melody. Go with the flow of emotion that comes from listening to a favorite song.

See if songwriting is therapy for your soul. If you want to go deeper, here are 10 more unusual tips for songwriting.

3.  SING OUT YOUR SADNESSemotional mental health

As a teenager, I belted out a lot of Linda Ronstadt ballads. Singing along with her soulful voice, I found a connection to my own soul. These days, I don’t sing much around the house or even in the car. I stay in my head and must remind myself to sing out loud.

  • So sing in your shower, house, or car.
  • Join a band or choral group which can be especially healthful and uplifting.
  • Worship with friends on a Sunday.

Time Magazine explained the reasons why singing can lift the spirits:

“The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness.”*

I let go of the bulimia when I learned to find words for my feelings.

Can you bring your hidden insides out to help lift the weight of heavy emotions?

When I find myself wearing winter blues or spinning inside my head too much, I get to work on one of these 3 ideas. Let me know how it goes for you!

If you want to hear the song I wrote and recorded with my husband as Out of the Grey, check it out here: “Tell Your Story.” (lyrics here)

If you want to learn more about songwriting and singing, my handbook/workbook, The Singer and The Songwriter can help.

13 thoughts on “3 Creative Ways to Move Toward Emotional Health”

  1. I love that you were able to let go of the bulimia when you started writing your hidden insides out on to paper. Finding words for my feelings helps me too. When I don’t journal, I’m a mean ole’ hangry bear!

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  2. Songwriting also segments the scope of our time: relieving boredom, enriching the length of daily habit, and drawing us to completion.

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  3. All great advice. I confess that your Tell Your Story song has been rolling around in my head for days now. It never gets old. I used to journal daily, but just like your discovery, I found my daily installments all seemed to sound the same. However, in recent years I opted to log those deeper and more frustrating struggles on my computer. (Typing is much faster.) It was a good outlet and I feel like I always have that safety net when things go off the rails.

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  4. Regarding the way of prayer, God doesn’t always answer our prayers directly as to what we would like to expect, but often through hints that help us seek and reach solutions ourselves. Then again, some of life’s problems are impasses, hence the saying “grant me the wisdom to know the difference.” Then we can “accept what we cannot change” in the sense of withdrawal, endurance, or survival.

    I came across a great prayer in this vein called “A Prayer for Deeper Vision,” author unknown:

    “Spirit of God, each day I greet friends and meet strangers, receive love and accept criticism, share meals and collaborate in work, bored and surprised, burdened and entertained. Help me not only touch the surface of these events, but to perceive your presence in them, guiding me to life. Amen.”

    Your songs certainly branch in this way!

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  5. Thank you Christine for your honesty. I’ve struggled with depression myself. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I learned to use drugs to deaden the pain. Bad habits die slowly but are rekindled quickly. That struggle continued for years after I got saved. Music was always what God used to bring me out of that way of coping. You guys music was an integral part of that. My associate pastor is doing a sermon this morning on the importance of congregational singing, and the importance of individual participation. I texted him this article and he stated parts of it may find it’s way into his sermon. That quote from time magazine in particular. Your little blog, email, letter that you send out occasionally is touching more hearts than you can imagine. Again thanks for your honesty and transparency. God bless.

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  6. The songs that describes my story are “I Don’t Know Why” by Shawn Colvin and “Unfolding” by you know who. I can’t stop wondering about life’s events and choices. In that vein, here is a poetic parable:
    In the yonder wood
    Two lanterns mark our progress
    Emerging as one
    The wood represents the spiritual world, one lantern is held by a person seeking an answer to a prayer, the other lantern is held by an angel with a key to an answer, when they meet each other the direction to the answer is realized. There are three ways angels express themselves: by something repeated, by something extraordinary, and by something seen in new light — watch for an unusual coincidence of confidence (a message massage for a heart ache).

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    • That Shawn Colvin song resonates with me, as well. I can’t stop wondering either. I will look for the angelic answers : )

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  7. After divorce. N leaving a 10 year ministry. Out of the Grey has helped me keep my focus on life. I blv the seeds you n Scott have planted will be watering our souls well into the future!

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